Learnt

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So recently my darling Hil (unable to do links at the mo’) was talking about her adventures in home repairs and being handy. I was startled when she spoke of her growing up years and how few DIY skills she’d learned as a youngin. Shocking because having met Hil’s folks and visited their home it was love at first sight for me. And to think there would be anything deficient about growing up in the ivy-covered brick fairytale house of my dreams owned by the parents I’d assumed I’d been stolen from because they were EXACTLY what I always wished mine were- brilliant, erudite, liberal, socially engaged, artistic…well, it was odd.

Odder still was realizing that I HAD been taught the skill set that Hil said she hadn’t gotten.

Oddest of all? The one who’d taught me was my mother.

Yes, THAT mother. The heretofore bane, enemy, and windmill I’d forever set my lance against- my horrible mother.

Over the past decade or so I’d made my peace with my mother’s memory. In that I stopped feeling so terribly ripped off and abused. I’d let go of my hurt and resentment and had actually gotten around to feeling a little bad for her over the stunted life she’d chosen to lead. But grateful to her? Not a fucking chance.

It seems though I do owe her. As a moral compass and protector of my physical and emotional self, um, no. But as a combo of Suze Orman, Heloise, and Bob Vila? She did a damn fine job teaching me a myriad of life skills and it’s about time I acknowledged that.

My mother was a veritable fount of practical knowledge. She taught me how to fix, tend, clean, mend, set up, break down, move, balance, shop, save, cook (a little), all manner of hacks on how to maintain a home, how to manage my finances, and how to groom myself and curate a wardrobe…gads, I see now she never stopped teaching me. The same thing I do with my own kids. Who knew?

At the time and for all these years afterward I scorned my dippy addict shallow callow mother’s teachings as the product of a control freak who was all about how things LOOKED but who had nothing to say or give about how things felt or what they meant.

All true, but this does not mean that everything she taught me is without merit. In this I was dead wrong and say sorry.

My mother taught me a lot. More than that, what she taught me was transferable. Expandable. I’ve applied what she taught me in a myriad of ways in areas she’d never even known existed, but that doesn’t make my debt of gratitude any less. Magellan circumnavigated the globe and his contribution to science and geography doesn’t change  just because we now have satellites.

I know for certain she kept hoping a man would show up and relieve her of having to do most of this stuff. Her whole existence was bent around catching and holding a man. (She was terrible at this, btw. My mother was a shmuck and a doormat and encouraged me and my sisters to be the same. She never stopped hoping Prince Charming would drop by and stay forever.) In the meantime (and even during, the men she ‘caught’ were users, lazy man-babies, and two of them were pedophiles) my mother persevered. Also for certain she taught me most of this because she didn’t want to do it any more and was grooming me to be the ‘wife’. In this my mom was successful. By 9 years old I did the laundry, the food shopping, most of the cooking, I cleaned house, balanced her checkbook, wrote checks and mailed the bills, made doctors’ appointments, bought stamps and mailed packages, dropped off and picked up prescriptions and her dry cleaning, minded my younger sister, stayed home from school to wait for the super/phone guy/carpet cleaner, and 6-10 times a month went to my own job as a child model.

By 12 I could change her car’s oil, negotiate with a landlord, file taxes, register myself and Gidget for school, use a rented steam cleaner, change a flat, and use that same tire iron to protect my sister from pedophile #2.

This is not a list saying, “Oh poor me!” I’m saying that by the time I left home I had a practical skills set that has served me well. And I have my mother to thank. Because of her I know how to save a sweater from a nasty pulled thread. (Snag the pull with a bobby pin and pull the protruding thread back inside the sweater). I know how to fold a fitted sheet. (Tuck each elastic pocket corner neatly inside each other. Smooth lopsided rectangle into tidy rectangle. Fold in thirds.) Long before the grocery stores put it on the shelf tags my mother taught me how to figure out the unit price of things. The equation to figure out the cost per ounce isn’t difficult. Ditto the equation of cost per use. Don’t know that one? Let me explain. A sparkly sassy party dress was originally $120 and is marked down to $50. A classic camel’s hair coat is $500 at full retail. You’d think you’re getting the bargain with the party dress, right? Pay attention! You wear the party dress twice. Even at clearance price that dress is $25 per use! Now the coat. A good camel’s hair coat in a classic cut will last 20 years. $500 / 20= $25. Let’s say you wear that coat 40 times a year. That’s .62 per wearing. 62 cents vs $25. The coat is the far better bargain despite the initial outlay.

M y mom taught me that.

She taught me how to find a wall stud by knocking the walls and using a magnet. She taught me to use a molly and wall anchors when hanging pictures and heavy stuff. And what of the walls? My mom always negotiated our rent for our apartments by offering our place as the model apartment. We had gorgeous furniture and kept our place spotless. In exchange for letting prospective tenants into our place we were allowed to paint the walls and ceilings much more flattering colors than ‘apartment’ white. Thus our places had cocoa beige ceilings and wall colors appropriate to our décor. I always scoffed at this bullshit when we moved (which was often) but ultimately I leaned how to tape and use a cardboard edger, and understand the importance of flattering lighting.

I could go on for pages. My point today is that there is no perfect. Parents? I truly believe most do their best. They pass on what they know and make an effort to pass along what they WISHED they’d been taught and instead learned by hard experience. Parents teach their children what they thought they’d been gypped out of and what they hope their own kids get to have.

Alex will never acknowledge the base level lessons he learned about economics, car maintenance, cooking, banking, grooming, or real estate, God, why would he? He hates and rejects me far harder than I ever did my own mother who left me to fend myself against actual pedophiles who raped and sodomized me. But whatever. Alex has his arguments and issues. Perhaps when I am dead and safely gone he might forgive me as I have my own mother. Besides, I DO have a kid who loves and appreciates me and I am slobberingly grateful for him. My life isn’t a complete waste of experience and knowledge. Sebastian has his shit, absolutely. But when he looks at me he sees a mom who tried. Sebastian is on Team Mick. And Team Mom.

In any case this post’s point is about gratitude. My unexpected gratitude for the practical knowledge my mother passed on to me. How to polish floors. How to set a table. How to scuff the soles so you don’t slip in a new pair of shoes. Why an evening bag is smaller than a daytime bag. How to mine a clearance rack. The proper wording in a thank you note and a resume. How to iron a shirt and register a car. How to use a hammer, a drill, and carbon paper. How to lay tile and how to switch collars on your coat for any/every occasion. My silly mother taught me to stand up straight and how to make pretty good coffee.

No lie, my mother’s priorities and morals sucked. To use a cliché, she knew the cost of everything and the value of nothing. But what I failed to value was all the gut level skills she taught me. Even though I choose not to, thanks to her I know how to make hospital corners.

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Sometimes a little can be enough. Much love, ~LA

Store Stories

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After being just one droplet in a flood of Lisas for most of my life I am amused by the herd of Tylers at the store. By my count there’s at least 10 of them, I’ve probably missed a few as I don’t know the evening and overnight crews very well. There’s a bunch of Jasons too. But there’s a broad range of variant spellings. Jasen, Jaisen, Jaysen, Jayson, Jasohn, and Jaycen. I’ve always loathed my name for its trendiness (of its time) and lack of personal identity for me but at least I never had to tell anyone how to spell it! To give a kid a common name and gussy it up with a bizarre spelling is beyond dumb. It doesn’t make your kid unique and special, it makes your kid the butt of impatient eye-rolls and a lifetime of patiently going, “No, it’s ‘j-a-y-CEE-e-n’. Yes, I know that’s not how Jason is usually spelled. Yes, I’m sure that’s the correct spelling. No, my mother wasn’t 15 when she had me or on drugs, she just thought it was cool.” Heck, even if you ARE 15 or on drugs, do your kid a favor- if you want your kid to have a unique name then give him one but do NOT choose a common name and lade him with a dopey spelling. Name your kid ‘Pennyfeather’ or ‘Winthrop’. Go for it. But if you like ‘Jacob’?  Fine, but as is. Changing it to ‘Jaykobb’ will just make your kid’s life miserable. Trust me.

I am sad to report that one of my favorite seniors is losing ground at an exponential rate. He was the first customer to directly compliment me to management, but I enjoyed him for his own self too. Bright, funny, always pleasant. Now he’s accompanied to the store by an aide or female relative. My friend looks and smells bad and he’s pretty vague about where he is and why he’s there. It’s shocking how quickly this came on. Until a couple months ago Mr Anthony was sharp as a tack and had a way of giving compliments like handing you a bouquet of flowering weeds and making them seem like roses.

On an up note there’s a regular mother-son duo who come on Tuesdays (it’s senior discount day) and I’ve been greeting them for years now. The mother nods and returns my greeting but the son (late 20s) is definitely on the spectrum. Tidy grooming but ALWAYS the same outfit. Elbows held in close, no eye contact, flinches when addressed directly. I say my hello but move on quickly so as not to distress the son. Well! Yesterday he approached and asked a question! How cool is this? For certain he looked over my left shoulder, but he spoke to me. Listened while I answered and then thanked me. Made my day, I tell you what. I was so proud of him. And quite pleased to be included in his cadre of safe people to talk to.

I was gassing with the produce guys yesterday. The only female member of their crew has been named Employee of the Month. She’s one of my favorite people so I’m glad for her. But it seems that aside from having your picture hung over the time clock and a mention in the monthly newsletter there aren’t any perks. So I was saying if I were ever chosen as Employee of the Month that I’d wear a crown. They cracked up. For the whole month? Yup. More laughter. “You know, LA, I believe you would.” Damn straight. My chances of winning are almost zero- my department is at a remove from the rest of the store, my manager doesn’t like me, and while popular I’m just not the Employee of the Month type. Still, I would totally rock a crown.

Though while on the subject of good employees, I should’ve garnered four, possibly five, stars this month. Stars are awarded when a customer calls 1-800-Shoprite {1 (800) 746-7748} and says nice things about you. The problem is once a customer goes to the bother of calling the store or the department to deliver a compliment they rarely feel the need to call the corporate number too. But that’s where shit gets real. That’s where performance rewards accrue. Stars, gift cards, even raises. So while it’s always sweet and gratifying when a customer goes to the trouble of calling the store or collaring a manager to praise my help, to be truly effective they have to say something to corporate. Remember that if you want to do a mitzvah for a retail employee who went the extra mile- call the 1-800 number.

It’s weird. On a meta level I feel low and sort of embarrassed by what I do for a living. The time clock, the name tag, the stupid advertisement on the back of my nasty polyester work shirt. But this is only when I allow what others might think into my assessment. It’s vanity and minding a value system I don’t follow. Of course I respect and honor occupations that require years of study and advanced degrees and a great deal of personal sacrifice, but when it comes down to it work is work and how we value and reward it is pretty fricken arbitrary. Is my making sure a customer has their preferred brand of raisin bread really so less meaningful than a CFO who lays off 300 workers? Or closes a factory? Or okays a toxic waste dump? Yet that CFO earns millions and I make $10.15 an hour. Which has more value? Polluting the groundwater or buttery, cinnamon-y raisin toast?

Yeah, I vote in favor of toast too.

So on a personal and practical level I like what I do. I help the busy parents. I make sure the non-mobile senior citizen has their stuff. I provide wholesome nursery school snacks and decent dinners for exhausted commuters. And on the sales floor I welcome and give directions and make much of the babies. There’s no shame in what I do. Is an advanced degree necessary? Nope. But this doesn’t mean my job is unskilled. Not a lot of skill required to pull the exact thing off the shelf, but when substitutions are necessary that’s when my experience as a cook, a mom, and a thrifty shopper comes to the fore. My billables hold the corporate record for most successful subs and most up sales. I like being good at what I do.

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Yup, thanks, Aristotle.

 

Much love, ~LA

 

The Kids Are Alright

Millennials. Boy oh boy, how people love to complain about millennials.

Not me. I think they’re a pretty good bunch. And not just because I have one living in my house. I am very fond of that one but he does not have to represent his entire generation, I work with several dozen young folk who do not remember when the year began with 19__ and across the board they are pleasant to be with now and give me much hope about the future. (If we have one.)

Of course their fads and folkways seem strange and a little dopey to me, but I also remember that when I was 20 I had a lavender hairdo that looked trimmed by a weed-whacker and including the septum piercing had enough metal attached to my head that on clear nights I could stand in the backyard and pull in the AM pop station from Kuala Lumpur.  They’ll get past their “Look at me, look how cool and strange I am!” stage. We all did. Be kind, people. They are having fun and learning to be who they are. This takes time and a few strange turns along the way. Don’t believe me? Go find a picture of yourself at 21 and get back to me.

Mostly I am sick to death of the arrogant Boomers sniffing about how ‘kids these days are…’ lazy, unmotivated, moochers, blah, blah, blah.

Much of the complaining about millennials is stuff which isn’t of their making. They didn’t spoil themselves. They didn’t make the shitty economy and the wretched reality of part-time service jobs that pay minimum wage for-freaking-ever. They didn’t bloat college tuition by 800%. That’s right, Sebastian pays 800 times per credit hour than what I did for the same basic gut-level requirement courses at the same type of community college that I went to. Yet what he earns per hour is only 3 times what I made. The crappy tiny apartment Mike and I had was $75 a month plus a $40 utility bill. Even if my kid could find a scummy little apartment to share with a roommate or two the going rate in the shittiest towns in the scariest random-gunfire dead-junkies-in-your-stairwell neighborhoods is upwards of $1,400 a month plus utilities.

DO THE MATH.

In 1982 it was possible to find and buy a beater for around $600. Not a beauty and you might have keep the trunk wired shut with twist-ties, but it ran and got you to school and work and once a week you dumped $10 in the tank and it was all good. Your insurance might be another $18 a month. Again this was do-able on $3.50 an hour. These days a 15 year old Toyota with 190K on the odometer is a treasure and it will cost about $6,000. To plate and insure it is another $1,700. Gas is still cheap enough at $2.85. Sebastian works 25 hours a week (the most he’s allowed per company policy) at $9.75 per hour.

DO THE MATH.

These young people were handed the lousiest financial prospects since the Great Depression and instead of whining and twiddling each other’s dirty toes at love-ins and burning down campus buildings and faffing around on guitars like the Boomers did over their sad, sad lives of plenty and entitlement the millennials are working. Most have 2 or 3 jobs. They live at home? Yeah? Where else are they supposed to go? Humans have always lived in multi-generational groups. At least until the end of WWII. What was old is new again and I do not mind having my son around. And we are one more major illness/injury from having MIL come live with us too.

The millennials are creating new ways to communicate. While us oldies are grumbling about the kids and their stupid phones those kids are making friends worldwide. They are helping each other make dreams come true with Go Fund Me campaigns and micro-lending. They are launching careers on YouTube and Instagram. Pretty clever if you ask me.

And more than anything? The millennials are kind. So much of the cruelly restrictive race, gender and sexuality ‘norms’ of the past are just gone. While the previous generations are frightened and clutch onto stereotypes and truly stupid rules for the way things ‘should be’ the young people I know are cool.

 

 

We might have sung this and maybe even thought we believed it, but today’s youngins really do. Gender fluid, feminists- male and female, race isn’t ignored- it’s explored and celebrated and embraced. I adore my work friends and respect the hell out of their respect for each other.

Are the millennials perfect? Of course not. Who is? However, for a generation raised with participation trophies, school shootings, locked indoors, tested into mind numbed rigidity, padded, antibactirialized, and then handed a warming planet, a broken government, and the most miserly bleak economic future imaginable and told to go do something about it, feh, they are doing their best. And to be honest better than most of us would if we’d been given this mess.

I mean it, the kids are alright.

 

Much love, ~LA

Flu Meme

Here is a random list of questions!


1. Do you like blue cheese?
I think bleu cheese is one of those things foodies have convinced themselves is delicious. You know, like steak tartare and those punishingly sour red wines that can remove grease spots off the garage floor. No, I do not like bleu cheese. Blech..

2. Have you ever smoked cigarettes?
Yes, I smoked for almost 40 years. I quit two years ago. I do not feel substantially better in any way except financially. I put on 40 pounds, though this is also tied up with menopause. As unhealthy as smoking was it was also my major stress reducer and creativity booster. During The Purge I also stopped drinking, using products with aspartame and/or caffeine, and gave up any expectation that life will ever, ever be fun again. I now medicate with two different anti-depressants and Wise white cheddar popcorn.

3. Do you own a gun?
No. If I did I would not be writing this. I might be a fat boring person whose inner life is akin to the steady hum of the refrigerator, but a gun would have made it fatally easy to off myself during the more dramatic parts of my life. I am grateful I do not own a gun.


4. What flavor Kool- Aid?
Red.


5. Do you get nervous before a doctor appointment?
No. I told you, I am on a Very Even Keel these days and it takes something a hella lot scarier than a stethoscope to get me twizzed.


6. What do you think of hot dogs?
I adore hot dogs! Only good hot dogs though. Kosher, natural casing…yum!


7. Favorite Christmas movie?
A Charlie Brown Christmas.


8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
Screwdrivers. That’s what I’d prefer. What I actually drink is coffee/hot tea and down my meds with a tall glass of water.


9. Can you do a push up?
Yes ma’am, I surely can. Of course even with my arms fully extended my boobs are still touching the floor. So clapping push-ups are out. No room, I’d just be slamming my tits together like fleshy click-clacks.


10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?
I have several pieces that do not leave my bod except during surgeries- my pentacle, my wedding and engagement rings, a black sapphire eternity ring on my left thumb, a wide silver band on my right index finger and a delicate garnet heart right on my right ring finger. Really the only décor that changes are my earrings. Current fave- slim white gold hoops Mick gave me for New Year’s about 7 years ago.


11. Do you have a favorite hobby?
It used to be reading encyclopedias, nowadays I just watch documentaries. Last night I watched one about the history of gingerbread. Though I think a few of the recipes were actually pfeffernusse pretending to be gingerbread.


12. Do you have A.D.D?
No. I am easily distracted and often interrupt myself to go start something else while still in the middle of something, but this is more to having an undisciplined mind. True A.D.D. is painful and sometimes debilitating.


13. Do you wear glasses?
Yes, I do. Part-time since 6th grade. Full-time since 32. Bifocals at 36. Now at the Blinky the Mole stage where I put my glasses on to make a bathroom run in the dark.


14. Who was your childhood idol?
Barbie. Don’t mock. Barbie is a badass.


15. Name 3 thoughts at this moment…
– I wish my nose worked.
– I’m hungry.
– I would give my left arm to have Chinese food delivery. Hell, even pizza would be great.


16. Name three drinks you regularly drink.
Sprite. Turkey Hill Cherry Pomegranate Iced Tea. Water. Lots of water.

17. Current worries?
Trumpocalypse – this was Craige’s answer and it’s a good’un, though I am actually more concerned about the GOP House and Senate. Their campaign of terror to do away with EVRYTHING that helps people is fucking scary and maddening. Why? What do they gain from wiping out health care, Planned Parenthood, Social Security, Medicare, environmental protections, and civil rights? Seriously. What is the end game?


18. Current hate?
See above. Give me 15 minutes alone with Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and a Louisville Slugger.


19. Favorite place to be?
Bookstores.


20. How do you bring in the new year? 

Struggling to stay awake until midnight. Kisses all around, then bed.

 21. Where would you like to go?
Everywhere!


22. Name 6 people that will complete this.
Help yourself.


23. Do you own slippers?
Yes but get frustrated with them so I’m usually barefoot.


24. What color shirt are you in?
White long sleeve t-shirt. Grey leggings. Socks. Sneakers. Pastel plaid fuzzy bathrobe. Pashmina around my shoulders like a shawl. Our furnace quit yesterday and we are staying warm with our plethora of space heaters and blankies. I also have a hot water bottle in my lap. We can get the furnace looked at tomorrow when it’s not ‘an emergency weekend’ call. $$$$$$


25. Do you like sleeping in satin sheets?
NO! I loathe slippery fabrics. For a number of years we had a waterbed and it was nearly impossible to find cotton sheets for it. It was either scratchy poly-blends that pilled up immediately or that horrible fake ‘satin’ shit. GAH! Same goes for clothing. I wear cotton, cotton and more cotton. My work shirt irks me to death and it’s the first thing I take off when I get home, even before my shoes.


26. Can you whistle?
No, but my Da could and when I was really little we’d watch ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ together and he’d whistle along with the theme and I’d pretend to whistle too.


27. Where are you now?
In my chilly office at my desk festooned with medicine packets, empty tea mugs, and boogery tissues.


28. Would you be a pirate?
No. I’m a big fan of order. Not tidiness, but everyone behaving in an orderly way. Respect for each other. Stealing other people’s stuff is Not Nice.


29. What song do you sing in the shower? ‘
‘Some Enchanted Evening’ or a medley of songs from ‘Oliver!’


30. Favorite sports team?
I don’t care enough about sports to follow any of them but for solidarity’s sake I will say the NY Liberty. Go WNBA!


31. Favorite food?
At the moment it’s soup dumplings. Ask another day and get a different answer.


32. What’s in your pocket?
A box of Cepacol lozenges. Mad props to the Cepacol people, these things really work.


33. The last thing that made you laugh? .
Probably some animal video on FB. Cat fails. Dogs on trampolines. Something like that.


34. What’s your favorite animal?
Roseate spoonbills. They’re not skittery like most birds, they walk like bosses. 


35. Worst injury? .
Broken heart. Too many times to count. Kind of a bummer, but it’s the truth.


36. How many TVs in your house? .
Two. A big herky old school big screen TV in the living room. Wolf uses it for gaming and watching Netflix. And a much smaller old school TV in my bedroom where I feast my eyes on BBC America nature docs and ‘Mysteries at the Museum’ on Travel channel.

Thanks, Craige for the meme. It’s been a lovely diversion today as I snort, snuffle, and tilt my Tamiflu lance at this wretched flu.

Stay well, my lovelies, ~LA

Even Numbered Years

Greetings from my messy office here in the glorious new year of 2017. I remembered the other day that I rarely do well in even numbered years. Not all of them have been disasters but enough of them were as to skew the statistical probability toward, “Holy crap, what IS it about even numbered years for me anyway?”

Conversely the years that end in odd numbers tilt the tables to the good too heavily to simply be random. I’m not saying any outside force is at work here, but as a superstitious atheist who enjoys statistics I don’t ignore patterns when I see them. And for me odd numbered years are good.

I was born on 1-21-1963. Not that happiest year in history, what with JFK being killed and all, but I got here so there’s that.

Both of my children were born in odd years, Alex in 1985 and Sebastian in 1997.

1977 was the best and happiest year of my youth. Usually being 14 is a messy business, hormones rage, bodies go haywire, thinking is cloudy and angry, most kids start high school and go back to the bottom of the social food chain, and at 14 very little of your life is actually in your control. Me? Like so much else about my dopey never-follows-the-usual life I totally owned myself at 14. I put up with my mother’s bullshit to keep a roof over my head but she effectively ceased to be my mother in any meaningful way. I chose. My morals and values. My friends. My clothes. My diet. What I did and did not do with my bod. I chose what courses I took in school and what jobs I worked to pay my rent. Which, btw, did NOT include my pay from modeling, that she kept in its entirety. My rent had to come out of my other jobs so as to ‘be fair’ to my sisters who didn’t model. Yeah, I know, but I was inured to her bullshit, at least nobody was beating me or molesting me anymore. I was okay. In the spring of 1977 I met and began working for Walt the One-Armed Landscaper. Walt was a good guy. In the summer of 1977 I already had rock and roll, now sex and drugs joined the team and it was terrific. 1977 was also the year I petitioned the town council and finally won the right for girls to participate in Little League. My younger sister, Gidget, pitched a no-hitter that season and made the three stitches in my scalp (an assault after a particularly nasty battle at town hall) totally worth it. 1977 I joined the swim team and discovered the zen of early morning laps. That’s also the year I met and started going out with Richard, my most excellent high school boyfriend. Like Walt my boss, Rich was a genuine Good Guy.

In 1981 I graduated high school a semester early, turned 18, and left home all within 48 hours. That January alternated between crazy dumps of snow and bitter sub-zero temperatures. The weather messed up mass trans so trains and buses were too risky and after agreeing to pay for their gas, tolls, parking, and dinner in the city my parents grudgingly consented to take me to the airport. For their convenience they’d gotten me to LaGuardia 5 hours before my 7:00pm flight. Dumping me at the gate, me in my fake down jacket and no name jeans with a backpack and a shopping bag containing every single thing I owned and had been allowed to leave home with, said good-bye to my pop and turned to hug my mother. She, in the ankle-length sable coat my modeling had paid for, kept her arms at her sides. She looked at me and said, “You made your bed, now lie in it. When you screw up don’t come crying to me.” She turned away and said, “Come on, Charlie, our reservation is at 5:30 and I don’t want to miss it because of traffic.”

If you’re thinking that doesn’t make 1981 sound so great, just think of the next 11 months and what I didn’t have to deal with anymore.

1993 I sold over one million dollars worth of cars and trucks. I was the only woman in the million club and when I strode into GM headquarters in Tarrytown the place would go quiet and if envious dirty looks were arrows I’d be holier than Saint Sebastian.

2001 I discovered Diaryland and though I didn’t know it at the time I began the process of saving my own life.

Mike and I officially split up in Feb 2005. Normally a divorce is not a good or happy thing but it was necessary like the excision of a life-threatening tumor, painful and scary but ultimately it saved both of us.

I met Mick in 2007 and married him in 2009. Oddly enough we married on the anniversary of JFK’s assassination which sort of brings my life full circle.

Of course this is not a complete list and skeptics might say I’ve been cherry-picking to make my case, but it’s my life and I was here for the whole thing. I vouchsafe the odd/even thing is true.

So yeah, the future under the inept rule of Trumplethinskin looks pretty bleak I comfort myself with the knowledge humanity has survived all kinds of folly, fury, and foolishness. From the madness of King George III to Idi Amin. From Black Plague to the Salem witch trials. Holocaust. Holy Wars. AIDS. Ebola. Fatwas. To when gluten became Satan incarnate.

We muddle through. Very seldom is it happily or peaceful, but we make it.

It’s an odd numbered year and I believe luck and good fortune are with me. Because I love you and you are dear to me I’m opening my arms and bringing you in. Whatever backassward goodness comes my way in the odd numbered years is yours too. We ARE going to be okay, my friends.

 

So mote it be. ~LA

 

 

Working Again

hard-work-9319421As many of you know I returned to work this week. My whole bod is aching like an ingrown toenail. I say that as opposed to the traditional ‘rotted tooth’ because I do not know what that feels like. However, I DO know what an ingrown toenail feels like and it’s an accurate descriptor. My entire body is one enormous dull ache and when I bump into anything the pain flares and the bumped place throbs madly. See? Ingrown toenail. I am also sporting an interesting assortment of bruises. Why? Why would I do this to myself again? Because it’s the only way to get reassigned to a different department. I’ve made my case to work in two places- seafood or customer service. Both places have their plusses and their minuses, but either would be far healthier for me than to continue to be a cart-pushing pack mule.

 

Seafood- the pace is slower and the physical demands far, far less. It’s a positive place where my sales experience would truly shine. I am a cook too, so helping people to see that preparing fish isn’t scary or difficult would be great. I could upsell like a mofo and improve the department’s numbers exponentially. BUT this is Sebastian’s place at the store. Having Mom there would be tough. We’d rarely (if ever) overlap shifts, it’s a turf thing. And corporate policy discourages family members from working in the same department lest we team up to rob the place blind or that because of seniority my kid becomes my supervisor. Can you imagine? “Uh, Mom? You need to clean the poop out of the lobster tank and you were late last Wednesday, do it again and I’ll write you up.” Awkward much?

Customer service- again, someplace where my people managing skills will be an asset. It’s kind of a bummer to work there though because the majority of people who go there are folks with problems and complaints. Getting griped at all day long will not be a fun fest. Plus there’s being a sitting (standing) duck for the coots. Man oh man, the fricken old dudes who run their mouths all day at the customer service people are maddening! Lord save me from mansplaining old white guys who believe every syllable and corny joke out of their mouths is pure gold. “Why yes, Mr Coot, please tell me for the 57th time about how during Korea you were an Army purchasing clerk in Ft Dix, NJ and were personally responsible for sending MacArthur replacement corncob pipes. I am completely enthralled with your verbal memoirs.” Ugh. The psychological freight of working customer service is much but the physical demands are almost nil. The occasional return of stinky spoiled food and dealing with sticky/smelly deposit bottles rejected by the return machines outside will be yucky, but otherwise the biggest physical problem is standing in one place for five hours. Meh, like I said there’s tradeoffs.

At customer service I will be able to utilize THE most important skill I’ve learned from my years of working with the public…ready? People want to be heard. They need someone to give a shit. Even if you cannot fix it if you listen with patience and empathy 99.8% of people will go away happy and singing your praises. Sure, people want solutions. They want their broken thing fixed or replaced. They want a refund or store credit. They want assistance. But more than anything they want someone to CARE. And this, my friends, is where I truly shine. I know it’s not really about the bruised apples, it’s the bruised feelings. People who come up to the counter are upset and this is where the situation usually goes off the rails and customers lose their cool. They don’t want to hear bullshit about return policies and expiration dates and matching receipts. I will get to that in time, but first I am going to listen. I am going to pay attention and give a response that is human. “You are correct, customer, those rolls should NOT have turned to dust when you tried to slice them.” The subtext being that they aren’t nuts or foolish or some kind of spoiled brat for wanting a sandwich. Their desire is not unreasonable. The solution they initially demand might be- no, we are not going to pay for your kid’s college tuition because you have some stale club rolls, nice try, but I will give you a nice shiny NEW package of club rolls. May your next round of sandwiches be delicious. Have a nice day.

I have spoken with all the proper management to get my transfer and have been assured it will go through. I will keep noodging though, squeaky wheel and all that, the store is a busy place and nobody is looking out for me except me. My biggest problem is trying not to wrack myself up too badly while I’m still stuck at shop from home. From how banged up and sore I am already this will be a challenge.

hard-work

Wish me luck and a quick transfer.

 

Much love, ~LA

LA Goes To The Movies

Hey-o, LA the Cinema Sage here. Over the last several weeks I’ve been to the movies quite often but what with the election and the world going to shit and trying to get cleared to go back to work but in a different department and that despite adding 10mgs of escitalopram to the mouthful of other wonder drugs I swallow every morning my anxiety is still so bad that some days it’s really, really hard to function at all. Like it’s too difficult to comb my hair and trying to decide if I want coffee or tea will make me cry so I grab another Sprite and then cry some more because Sprite is making me fatter and it’s wrecking the food budget…so yeah, blogging about movie reviews just hasn’t been a priority. However today I’m here on this plane of existence and functioning well enough to change out of my bathrobe into actual clothes. (3rd day running! Whoo! Go me!) What better way to celebrate being quasi-human than to talk about the things I do in the dark with a roomful of strangers?

movie-patrons

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – They warned us right there in the title, didn’t they? Do NOT go back for another helping of this lame action series. But it was Mick’s turn to pick and while my husband has excellent taste in picking second wives his movie choices are at best unimaginative. The Jack Reacher sequel wasn’t so much bad as it had been done before. Done to death. I was literally reciting the dialog three beats ahead of the characters speaking their lines. Every story ‘twist’ was so hackneyed I was embarrassed for everyone involved- us, the crew, the cast, the media flacks, heck, even the kid who had to sweep up the spilled popcorn between showings. Was there anything good about this tired sequel? The meat hammer. I liked the meat hammer. At one point Reacher and his reluctant partner in adventure are fighting bad dudes in a restaurant kitchen and she doesn’t have a gun so she improvises. A meat hammer. It doesn’t fire bullets, but up close this thing WILL put a serious hurt on someone. Being a meat hammer kind of gal I appreciated the nod toward those of us who like our weapons blunt and surprisingly potent.

LA the Cinema Sage’s recommendation? Wait for this on Netflix and watch on a night when you are wanting distraction but nothing you care to get emotionally involved with.

Now while we’re on movies you can recite along with I took Sebastian to see…

Rocky Horror Picture Show – Actually on the same night as Reacher. When we were buying tix for the former we saw it listed on the marquee and immediately got our admission to the late night (but not midnight) special showing. After the Tom Cruise snore fest we had just enough time to get Mick home, load up with supplies for Rocky and get back to the Cineplex. Sebastian had watched the dvd and has gotten my copy autographed by Bostwick, Quinn, and Little Nell, but he’d never seen it on the big screen. Demented with glee we had our newspapers, squirt bottle, playing cards, toast, and confetti. Unfortunately we didn’t have rice or party noisemakers, nor were either of us in costume. I considered toilet paper (“Great Scott!”) but thought we had enough stuff for our impromptu outing. It worked out fine. With only 15 times under my belt I was no expert but I think I was the only one who’d ever been before and the small but enthusiastic house all giggled and cheered when my shouted questions and snarky remarks were answered by the people on screen. Sebastian and I tossed our stuff and shot our water bottle (normally it’s the cat punisher) and sang along loudly. (Of course he knew the songs, what kind of mother do you take me for? The soundtrack cd lives in the car and he’d been exposed since birth. Hell, I got a snotty phone call from Sebastian’s 2nd grade teacher about his show-stopping rendition of ‘Dammit, Janet’ during recess.) My son had a faboo time and is glad he’s not a virgin anymore.

Hacksaw Ridge – Another Mick pick, but I’m glad I saw it. As always there’s the clash between art and artist, where is the line if you like the former and loathe the latter? My beef with Mel Gibson actually predates his first anti-Semitic drunken spree and goes all the way back to his childhood in a nearby town and his Holocaust denying father’s decision to up his family and immigrate to Australia to avoid Mel’s elder brothers being drafted. Gibson Sr seemed to hate pretty much everyone and everything, including his wife who he impregnated with 10 kids between beatings. Yes you have to take gossip with big boulders of salt but the stench of Hutt Gibson’s cruelty still clings to Salisbury Mills. Mel comes by his love of misanthropy and snuff porn quite honestly. This is one fucked up clan.

Anyway, Hacksaw Ridge. Color me impressed. Yeah, Mel got to indulge his love of gore- all spraying guts and blood and chewed up bodies turned hamburger, but to an end this time. Desmond Doss’s story is noble. His values impossible to find fault with. His bravery unquestionable. But it’s the core decency of the man that is the real message. As crazy as it sounds Mel Gibson made a movie that celebrates and honors decency. Basic- no bones, no frills, no creed, no fricken side (left, right, Dem, GOP, etc, etc), just bottom line human decency. And how brilliantly straightforward doing the right thing can be. Not easy. No, no, no. Doing right is rarely the comfy hassle-free way to go, but it is always the obvious way if you look with clear eyes and an honest heart. LA the Cinema Critic’s say? See this movie. All of you.

Arrival – Seems a bit foolish to even review this movie, a linguist saves the world? Need you even ask? Words are my life. Their meaning, the shades of meaning, the construction of communication- signs, gestures, pictograms, grunts, State of the Union addresses, I don’t care what the flock the medium is-communication is everything. This movie is about that. If you’re looking for ‘Alien vs Predator’ or ‘Mars Attacks’ or (God help us) ‘Independence Day’ this is not the movie for you. However if you read, if you write, if you travel and have ever gotten into goofy situations because your guidebook and carefully memorized phrases about embassies and bathrooms has failed you, if you believe thinking is better than shooting, if you’ve ever thought about how hard it is to be truly understood, then yes, go see Arrival. At the very least it will give you and your companion something to wrangle over while you have pie and coffee afterward. Four stars out of five. It might have been a fiver but I seriously don’t care for Jeremy Renner, he irks me on the molecular level.

Last, not best but not least we have…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – How to review this? As a Potterphile? As a movie lover? As a storyteller? I don’t know, a little of each? Newt Scamander is Neville Longbottom without the homely phase. He’s a really decent guy with almost zero people skills and a whole lot of endearing awkwardness. The story is very much told by a Brit. The Americans are an intolerant lot. Quick to anger. Quicker to shoot. Almost entirely without imagination and charm. (See: muggle vs nomaj) Without the built-in hierarchy of station and class to the British eye the sole way of defining Americans is through their occupations and the depth of their wallets. Not an entirely inaccurate view but one that reckons without the American hope of upward mobility and stubborn belief we’re entitled to join the ruling class if hard work and luck are with us. We do NOT settle. Perhaps this is why the sole non-magical lead is so adorable. Jacob Kowalski is a hella good guy. Long after the CGI critters fade and even the story is a blur this one character stands clear and bright in my mind’s eye. There’d best be a place for him in the sequels or I will be seriously ticked off. And what of the sequels? It’s pretty obvious this movie is appetizer and prolog to what comes next. It can stand alone, but just barely. The whole picture felt like an introduction. Nothing wrong with world building and this movie certainly left a lot of interesting alleys to explore. And there’s always the addition of amusing troublesome critters to throw into the mix. Newt has a Hagrid-like blind spot about just how much mischief his collection of rescued animal pals can get into. It was interesting to watch a movie set in the magical world that didn’t have a book first. The Harry Potter movies were always freighted with the expectations of the readers. Without the glares of a billion devoted print loyalists Fantastic Beasts had a chance to see where it wanted to go without being bound by canon. Unfortunately it didn’t go very far. A promising beginning but only a beginning.

LA the Cinema Sage gives Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them a very hopeful 3.5 stars.

 

And that, my friends, is all I have for the nonce. Much love, your movie-loving pal, ~LA